A live-action film adaptation of Hiroaki Samura's Blade of the Immortal "neo period drama" manga has been green-lit for 2017. Takuya Kimura will play the lead character Manji, a r?nin warrior cursed with an immortal body. Prolific filmmaker Takashi Miike is directing the film. The manga follows Manji's journey of revenge as the y?jinb? (bodyguard) of Rin, a young woman who swears vengeance against a group of sword fighters who murdered her parents.
It has been over a decade since Kimura last starred in a period drama film (2006's Love and Honor by director Y?ji Yamada). He said that he personally loves the worldview of the original manga, and that the film script also depicts the original manga's opposing themes of "I will not die" and "I cannot die."
Miike is tackling this project after releasing the live-action film of Terraformars next spring. He said that he personally selected Kimura, "a superstar who made the transition from the Showa era to the Heisei era," as "the world's strongest member of the Miike Gang, the Itt?-ry? fighting school of our film industry."
Samura himself said that the original manga was his "maiden" series which he launched 22 years ago, so when he re-reads it now, its imperfections stand out like mountains. Nevertheless, if the live-action version follows the original story while adding the thrills of movies, he would be happy. Samura said that with the director he loves, "the pinnacle of Japan's actors," and the help of talented cast and staff, he is looking forward to seeing new life being breathed into Blade of the Immortal.
Kimura has enjoyed over two decades of entertainment success as a member of the boy band SMAP, with such popular roles as the star of the television series I'm Home. The actor, who is often nicknamed "Kimutaku," also voiced Howl in Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli's Howl's Moving Castle film and JP in Takeshi Koike and MADHOUSE's Redline film. He then starred in the live-action film of the space opera anime classic Space Battleship Yamato (adapted as Star Blazers in English).
Miike's numerous projects include live-action films of Ichi the Killer, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Yatterman, As the Gods Will, Crows, and Mogura no Uta.
Samura launched the Blade of the Immortal manga in Kodansha's Monthly Afternoon magazine in December of 1993, and he completed the series in 2012. The manga's 30 volumes has 5 million copies in print, and it has been published in 22 countries and territories. It earned an Excellence Prize in the manga category of the 1st Japan Media Arts Festival Awards in 1997, and it won the Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material in 2000. Since ending Blade of the Immortal, Samura has published the historical manga Harukaze no Snegurochka (The Spring Breeze Snow Maiden) and the romance Nami yo Kiite Kure (Waves, Listen to Me).
Dark Horse Comics published the Blade of the Immortal manga in North America, and plans to rerelease it in omnibus form. The manga already inspired a television anime in 2008, and Media Blasters released it in English.